Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Geraldean Matthew on the Cover of the Orlando Sentinel!

Farmworker Association of Florida Lake Apopka Farmworker, the incomparable Geraldean Matthew, made the front page of the Sunday OrlandoSentinel.  Her interview discussed the chronic and inter-generational health problems caused by pesticides for farmworker families. Geraldean shared the history of the Lake Apopka muck farms and her personal experience with pesticide exposure. Another FWAF Lake Apopka Memorial Quilt Maker, Linda Lee is featured in the article, also sharing her experience being exposed to pesticides and the lack of education around pesticides. Geraldean expressed her frustration at how much money has been spent to buy out the farms and to restore the lake and wildlife, while ignoring the health of the people who are suffering from exposure to the same chemicals.

                                                                       (Orlando Sentinel)

While this injustice remains unanswered, steps are being made to study the connection between pesticide poisoning and the former farmworkers' health issues. Senator Geraldine Thompson has requested a study be done by the University of Florida in order to help bring these workers justice. We're incredibly proud that heroes like Geraldean continue to speak about injustice, and continue to demand answers.

Linda Lee Speaks on Environmental Racism at Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Community Forum

A very exciting opportunity for community members to speak on issues of police violence, discrimination, and poverty was well attended. Close to ninety people gathered to share and to listen to community members stories and experiences with the IACHR. This commission is drafting a report that will be sent to the United States Government in January detailing their interactions with the community and recommendations around the issues. Linda Lee spoke on the environmental racism that farmworkers in Apopka have faced for generations. She shared how inaccessible healthcare is for her and for people in her community.

She has severe health problems because of environmental racism, and continues to have difficulty in accessing healthcare due to racism and her status as a low-income black woman. The commission needed to hear about her struggles, because so many people in the community continue to be silenced and disrespected. We applaud Linda for sharing her story and lifting the voice of South Apopka. Her words were powerful, and in good company. Other Farmworker Association of Florida members spoke on issues of discrimination that illuminated what life is like for many people living in the United States. Geraldean Matthew spoke on police violence from personal experience, as well as Luckner Millien who spoke powerfully on issues of discrimination against Haitians. Yessica Ramirez shared the struggles of undocumented and impoverished Latinos. All the speakers made important and diverse points to illuminate discrimination in the United States, and contributed to a report that can hopefully yield change for those who are discriminated against.